Swill: new collection exclusive to The New Craftsmen

We love traditional ways of working with wood and we have a new technique and a new collection to add to our repertoire, especially for The New Craftsmen who showcase and sell craftsmanship from across the British Isles.

After being introduced by the National Coppice Federation we have spent the last six months working with one of four remaining Swillers in the UK, Lorna Singleton, to design and create Swill, a new collection launching in The New Craftsmen in Mayfair during London Design Festival this September.

The Swill collection unites our mutual passion for traditional green woodworking and sustainability to revive the ancient craft of swilling. The collection comprises the Swill Bench, Swill Stool, Swill Shelves and Swill Lights made from sustainable crops of coppiced English oak and well-managed English ash.

Swilling is the name given to the process of cleaving green wood (splitting it, in a controlled matter, along its grain) into strips and boiling and soaking it in water until it becomes supple. Once softened, the cleft wood is torn into even thinner strips no thicker than 4mm before being hand-woven, traditionally into baskets.

Lorna is one of four practicing swillmakers, or Swillers, in the UK. She learnt her craft from esteemed Swiller, Owen Jones. Lorna lives and works in Cumbria, where she hand-coppices oak and manages her woodland. She weaves oak swill onto and around structural ash frames, handmade by the Sebastian Cox Furniture team; a process that reflects the blend of tradition, craftsmanship and contemporary design that we think makes this collection so special.

Designed at the workbench, inspired by the strength, agility and lightweight qualities of swill and combining ancient crafts with contemporary furniture making techniques, the Swill collection has a simple and textural aesthetic.

It is phenomenal to see Lorna work; she is incredibly skilful and works intuitively with her material much like we do. While her craft is very different to ours, there are clear similarities so it feels completely natural for the Sebastian Cox Furniture team to collaborate with her. Lorna is a proper green wood worker.

You can see the Swill collection launch this week, during London Design Festival in The New Craftsmen.

Brogan Cox